Eintracht Frankfurt joined an exclusive club as they beat Rangers on penalties to win the Europa League final on Wednesday night.
A lot of the build up to the game was built on two sides looking to create history for their clubs. Eintracht Frankfurt hadn’t won a European trophy since 1980 and were looking to return to the Champions League for the first time since 1960 – when they were losing European Cup finalists to Real Madrid.
Rangers, meanwhile, had never won a European trophy previously going closest in 2008 when they lost the UEFA Cup final to Zenit. And it was the Scottish side that took control of the game after a drab first half, with Joe Aribo opening the scoring, capitalising on a defensive error.
But Eintracht fought back with Rafael Santos Borre equalising, tapping in from close range after a beautiful cross from Filip Kostic. The German side were not going to fall to a British side as they did in 2018/19, when they lost to eventual winners Chelsea in the semi-finals.
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Borre was the man celebrating again at the end of the night, scoring the winning penalty to seal the Europa League for Eintracht after Kevin Trapp had saved Aaron Ramsey’s effort – the only miss in the shootout. Trapp himself had an excellent game and made a vital save from Ryan Kent in the final minutes in extra-time to take the game to penalties.
The win means Eintracht are just the third side to claim Europa League glory without losing a single game (having started from the group stage). The first was Chelsea in 2018/19, beating Eintracht along the way, while Villarreal also did it last season.
But there was something different about Eintracht’s unbeaten run. They topped their group ahead of Fenerbahce, Olympiacos and Royal Antwerp to go directly to the last 16, where they were handed a tough tie against Spanish side Real Betis.
The tie was so tough that Eintracht only just scraped through thanks to an injury-time own goal from Guido Rodriguez in extra time, going through 3-2 on aggregate. That set them up with a tie against another Spanish team, a small club called Barcelona.
After a 1-1 draw at home, Eintracht went to the Nou Camp and won 3-2, taking a 3-0 lead at one point to realistically cruise to the semi-finals.
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And they knocked out another big name there, winning both legs against West Ham United, ending the Hammers’ own dreams of a European final.
Eintracht are also just the second team to score in all 13 of their Europa League games since the competition was rebranded in 2009, after Chelsea’s 2018/19 campaign.
And a big one for Eintracht, and fans of German football outside of Bayern Munich, as the Eagles became the first German team not called Bayern Munich to win a European trophy since Borussia Dortmund claimed the Champions League in 1997.
After the celebrations are done, and the Champions League excitement dies down (if it ever does), Eintracht also have a UEFA Super Cup final to look forward to against the winners of the Champions League final.